Consumer Alert: Hawaii BBB discusses QR code scams, how to avoid them

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — Smartphones automatically pull up a website when a QR code is scanned.

These codes often come through emails or social media promotions from real companies, but the Better Business Bureau says to watch out for QR code scams as well.

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“And of course scammers want to take advantage of that,” said Roseann Freitas, Hawaii BBB marketplace manager. “They’re impersonating another company with a fake QR code that redirects them to where they want to go.”

The BBB says consumers who scan fake QR codes are either exposing themselves to phishers who try to steal their personal information or install malware on the device.

“You’ve got both of the issues going on, because obviously it takes you somewhere else, and you can input your information and of course right then and there they’ve got you,” Freitas said.

It is not just imposter scammers that need to be looked out for; random QR codes can be found on fliers just posted around town. The BBB says, just stick with trusted sources.

“Like if you’re inside a restaurant and you’re scanning their code for their menu and that’s on their table, that’s a pretty safe bet that it’s not going to be fake,” Freitas said. “Again, it goes back to how, who sent you this piece and is it a legitimate piece.”

Some other tips for avoiding QR scams include not opening codes from strangers, regardless of what they promise in return. If you find a QR code and are not sure if it is real, check with a company representative and verify the offer. There are even paid QR scanning apps that have antivirus installed, which might be worth the few extra bucks.

Check out what’s going on around the nation on our National News page

Click here to read more about QR code scams or click here to visit the BBB Scam tracker.

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